Juan Thomas, Democratic candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives 83rd District (which includes Aurora and North Aurora), believes Springfield needs to be cleaned up and is proposing sweeping ethics reform. If elected, Thomas says he will introduce legislation that will do the following:
Ban state legislators from lobbying the Illinois General Assembly once they leave office for five years.
Ban House and Senate staffers from lobbying the Illinois General Assembly once they leave their job for three years.
Ban state legislators from lobbying local governments while they are in office.
Ban all elected officials from holding two public offices at the same time.
“Springfield has become a revolving door for former State Representative and State Senators to get hired to lobby their former colleagues and friends once they leave office. The corruption in Springfield is rooted in cronyism, self-serving politicians who have no fear of losing re-election, and unchecked power,” said Thomas. “Illinois residents have become disgusted and outraged by the cover-ups of criminal activity, women being sexually harassed on their jobs and never-ending cronyism. When voters elect you to serve, they are placing their trust in you.” As a public official, your job is to serve the people, not yourself. You should put people’s interest above your own,” Thomas continued.
Thomas believes the ethics reform bills that were introduced during the veto session last year do not go far enough. For example, House Bill 3947 would ban members of the General Assembly, their spouses, and immediate live-in family members from performing paid lobbying work with local government units. Currently, members of the Illinois General Assembly – state representatives and state senators – are prohibited from lobbying the State of Illinois but are not prohibited from lobbying other local governments. “This is a good start, but more is needed to truly clean up Springfield,” said Thomas.
Thomas is also calling for a ban on elected officials from holding two or more public offices at the same time. Currently, Illinois law allows elected officials to hold more than one elected office if the two public offices are found to be “compatible”. Historically, the Illinois Attorney General has issued opinions on which offices are compatible. However, Thomas believes it creates an inherent conflict of interest and blocks other people from serving the community.
Thomas’ opponent, Barbara Hernandez, currently holds two public offices, Kane County Board Member and State Representative. “How can you attend County Board meetings when you are in Springfield half of the year?” Thomas asks. “Holding two elected positions is arrogant and looks like you are hoarding power and double-dipping. Does Ms. Hernandez really believe that she is the only person in our community who can do these jobs?”, Thomas continued? According to the 2019 Kane County Board attendance records, since being appointed State Representative last March, Ms. Hernandez has missed 41 percent of the Kane County Board monthly meetings and committee meetings. This percentage gives Ms. Hernandez the worst attendance record among her 23 colleagues. “When she was appointed State Representative, Ms. Hernandez should have done the honorable thing and resigned from the county board,” said Thomas.
Thomas is also calling for a truly independent Legislative Inspector General. Under the current law, the Legislative Inspector General cannot open an investigation, issue a subpoena, or publish a report without the approval of a State Commission made up of state legislators. The job of the Legislative Inspector General is to investigate allegations of corruption of state legislators. Thomas joked, “this is no laughing matter, but this is like asking deer for permission before you go deer hunting.”